The parlous level of stakes in Cape racing is no April Fool’s Joke. It is no laughing matter at all when we race a Durbanville MR 86 Handicap for R11 000 less than a Turffontein Maiden Plate 24 hours earlier. It is not difficult to understand why some well-established local yards are spreading their nets far and wide in search of richer rewards.
The Summer Of Champions is behind us and we now approach the shorter darker winter days down South. It is not a glamorous time to race in the Cape but Wednesday’s eight race Country Course programme is not the scantiest card we’ve seen either.
The midweek programme is headed by a R74 000 MR 86 Handicap run over 2400m, where a small field of six line up to do battle in the Place Accumulator opener.
In a field of this size, pace is not guaranteed, and it looks a perfect contest for visiting KZN jockey Sean Cormack to show his skills.
He partners Mike Stewart’s topweighted Surruptitious, the class horse in the race and a fellow who is tried and just about tested over the course and distance.
Surruptitious will strip fresh as he returns to action from a ten week break.
Penny James, who has worked at The Dunes for sixteen years, said that Surruptitious was expected to give a good account of himself.
“He is a lovely, strong and capable horse and while the 2400m may be a bit of a push, he doesn’t know how to run a bad race,’ she said.
1800m is probably his optimum trip but the son of Overlord has met stronger – and Cormack has won twice on him.
He meets the Ronnie Sheehan-trained Private Doowaley, a galloper who has beaten the Stewart runner over the course and distance by 1,50 lengths and meets him on a further1,5kgs better terms.
Private Doowaley is no star, but probably stays the better of the duo and will enjoy testing conditions to show his best.
It is always worthwhile including the stayers from the Joey Ramsden yard. The Englishman knows how to get his horses fresh, aided by a treadmill or two, and Tiger Tops could be worthwhile including.
The son of Tiger Ridge has run a hat-trick of fourths at his last three outings to his credit and has not been far off the action.
Stan Ellley’s 3yo My World probably is the most scopy prospect in the field. He ran on steadily last time for third behind progressive staying sort Big Ed in an MR 77 2500m Handicap and finished 1,75 lengths behind Private Doowaley at level weights.
My World is 3,5kgs better off with Private Doowaley (Van Niekerk replaces Brandon May) and he will be partnered by the in-form Greg Cheyne.
Ennion In Form
The Greg Ennion yard have hit good form and the Milnerton yard send out the Stronghold gelding Dragonstone.
This fellow earned the tag of battling maiden taking eighteen runs before cracking his first win over 2500m at Kenilworth in January.
In the mysterious ways that racing works, he has now won 2 of his last 3 starts and looks a horse that will strengthen and pay his way into his 5yo career.
He won an MR 70 Handicap over the 2000m at the course last time, beating the capable No Resistance (from whom he received a half kilo) and Ovidio (3kgs) with ease.
The 8yo Count My Luck is stablemate to topweight Surruptitious and even with Xavier Carstens’ claim is heavily under sufferance.
The son of Count Dubois is no form horse – he has not won a race in close on three years come this winter. But The Dune’s Penny James points out his cracking last effort in the Gr3 Chairman’s Cup, where he ran a 4,25 length fifth to good stayer Coltrane.
“He is getting on now but always tries his heart out and is sound. He was staying on over the 3200m and this is a small field, so we are hoping he can earn. And his owner simply loves him!”
The outcome of the race looks like hinging on conditions and tactics. The prevailing wind and underfoot conditions could change the picture dramatically.
If there is no pace on, Sean Cormack could find himself dictating matters out front on Surruptitious.
If things pan out for him, he could hang on and go all the way.